Army acts cool to gun running racket
The army has let off its 73 officers illegally selling their weapons in Rajasthan with either a reprimand or a token fine of Rs 500 despite the Rajasthan government telling the supreme court on Monday that the gun selling racket of the aArmy personnel extends to other parts of the country.
In an affidavit on the 14 cases probed by its Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Rajasthan Government has disclosed that it discovered 304 more cases of such sales, 104 in Jammu and Kashmir and 41 in Punjab. The ACB has written twice to the district collectors for verification, but no replies were yet received, the affidavit said.
This affidavit, pointing out that the probe has to be extended to the Army companies in other states, prompted the court to post the matter after four weeks, not allowing the army to put the lid on the wrongs committed by the men in uniform.
Though the affidavit claimed that charge-sheets were already filed in six of the 14 cases the ACB probed, it was silent on the action taken against the IAS and Rajasthan Administrative Services (RAS) officers.
No civilian can possess a firearm without first procuring a licence and has to sell it to only those having such a licence, but the army personnel did not bother even about the army order that prohibits them from selling the non-service pattern (NSP) weapons without prior approval from the army's gun licence issuing authority.
As many as 73 army officers in the ranks of colonel, lieutenant colonel and major, found guilty of violating the army order were let off with censure or fine. The defence ministry is trying to make out a case that the army issues licences to its personnel and hence they are not guilty of illegal possession of weapons.
Their only crime is that they transferred the weapons without authorisation which in the eyes of the defence ministry no big crime. Three officers accused of selling more than one weapon -- Lt Col V S Rathore who sold 17 weapons, Lt Col B S Shekhawat (11) and Col. Neeraj Rana (5) were let off with "severe reprimand" and forfeiture of service and related benefits for three, two and one year respectively.
Dealing with other officers accused of sale of their personal NSP weapons in open market, 26 were reprimanded and fined Rs 500 each while 11 others who retried the weapons sold were let off with "severe displeasure" by the court martial.